Global voices shared as volunteering entities convene
23 February 2011
Representatives from the European Year of Volunteers met with their national volunteer committee counterparts from countries in Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania in perhaps the first meeting of its kind.
Under the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers umbrella, the gathering was a chance to explore the challenges and successes of diverse volunteering organizations.
“In Jordan,” said Jenine Jaradat, Director of the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre, “we want to see greater awareness of volunteering at a national level. At this conference, I’m learning so much from the European Year of Volunteers and others that I can take back to my country.”
“Volunteering is not a resource that comes for free,” noted the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in her welcoming address. “It needs nurturing, investment, structure and support.” UNV is the focal point agency for the International Year of Volunteers +10, which brings together 40 partners and stakeholders.
After the introductory sessions, the ‘Sharing Global Voices’ delegates got down to business by mapping out a ‘timeline’ of events set for the year.
They went on to host an interactive ‘share fair’ to display the various initiatives underway in countries from Australia to Nepal, Burundi, Ecuador and Poland.
On the second day of the conference, delegates tackled four key themes: influencing volunteering policy and research; sustainability and mobilizing stakeholders; organizing high-level events; and public awareness.
Their recommendations ranged from creating a central ‘knowledge bank’ of volunteering research to combining word-of-mouth and Internet advocacy to spread the word about the value of volunteering.
National volunteer committees and bodies are key to the success of the International Year of Volunteers +10, and will play a vital role in promoting and recognizing volunteering at the national level, as well as exploring steps to make volunteering accessible to all.
“This year is important,” said Jenine Jaradat, “because Jordanian youth see what’s happening in the region, and it’s important for them to feel that they have a voice. We will highlight that this year, and show how youth can gain a voice through volunteering.”
“One change I’d like to see is to ensure that volunteering is understood,” said Patrick Karangwa, Executive Director of Parlament Des Jeunes Rwandais (Parliament of Young Rwandans). “People must see that they are contributing to social and economic status on the ground.”
In addition to a series of regional conferences, many national volunteering entities will convene again in Africa during June. The Sharing Global Voices event was co-funded by the Youth in Action programme of the European Commission.